Over the last 10 years, the solar workforce has grown tremendously. With such growth, industry organizations such as the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP) have been forced to change and evolve alongside the industry. By updating the process for NABCEP Certification exams, more candidates can participate in the solar workforce as a certified professional.
NABCEP (which is known for its solar certification program) has gone through several iterations of its exam qualification and testing process in the last eight months. Each version has been a positive change, enabling solar professionals to get certified quicker and easier than before.
The big news now is that candidates can apply for and take their NABCEP Certification exam at any time during the year – a process that could take as little as one month!
If you are fairly new to the solar certification process, please visit our helpful guide to Qualifying for NABCEP Certification to get a better idea of what training and work experience requirements are needed. If you’re familiar with the NABCEP Certification Handbook and eligibility requirements, keep reading for a better understanding of how NABCEP’s testing processes have changed.
NABCEP Certification Exams Process
Put simply, to qualify for a NABCEP Certification exam, a candidate will need to:
- Participate in approved training
- Demonstrate work experience
- Submit an application showing that the first 2 requirements have been met
- Schedule the exam appointment
There used to be confusion, however, on completing the last two requirements. Here’s why…
For a long time, NABCEP promoted a testing calendar with very specific dates on it. All candidates had to follow the calendar and meet each deadline to sit for their NABCEP Certification exam. In addition, the NABCEP Certification exams were only offered twice per year, with the following sets of dates clustered once in the Fall and once in the Spring.
- Date 1 = application submittal deadline
- Date 2 = deadline for securing your testing appointment
- Date 3 = the testing date
It seems rather straightforward, but unfortunately, only offering the exam twice per year caused a lot of stress and panic on the side of aspiring solar professionals. In a growing industry, where marketability and competitive advantage makes all the difference, it was a lot to ask for solar installers and business owners to wait for one of the two exam dates. Folks had to put their business goals on hold until the testing date came – which, in some cases, could be 3-4 months!
NABCEP Testing Windows
In 2017, NABCEP reduced some of the scheduling concerns by changing the mindset from a rigid calendar of specific dates to “test windows.”
With this option, candidates were able to submit their eligibility application, schedule their testing appointment, and sit for the exam within a specific range of time. Greater flexibility, yes, but perhaps not flexible enough.
Rolling Applications for NABCEP Certification Exams
In early May 2018, NABCEP announced that it was doing away with the testing window concept for the advanced PV Installation Professional (PVIP) Certification Exam. The computer-based exam will now be available continuously throughout the year, which is great news for solar professionals who want to get certified as quickly as possible!
NABCEP will review and accept exam applications on a rolling basis. The only caveat is that candidates have two years from the date their application is accepted to take the PVIP exam. Given that drawn-out scheduling periods were a problem in the past, I imagine this won’t be a problem. In most cases, a candidate’s application will be reviewed within one week, so someone interested in earning the NABCEP PVIP Certification will be able to start and finish the testing process in less than one month! (Granted, this time frame does not include the training and work experience time. We’re talking from application submittal to testing date.)
Note: Should a candidate prefer to take the paper-and-pencil version of the PVIP exam, he/she still can. However, the paper-and-pencil format will only be available twice per year.
We’re really happy that NABCEP is granting more flexibility to its solar certification applicants. The changes that make certification more feasible will lead to more professionals getting certified and more consumer trust toward solar.
It’s important for us all to be patient with these changes and appreciate that these organizations are attempting to keep up. So hats off to you, NABCEP!
If you’re ready to begin satisfying the NABCEP Training Requirements, start with Everblue’s NABCEP PV Installation Professional program, which can be taken 100% online or partially in person. Give us a call at (800) 460-2575 if you have any other questions about NABCEP Certification eligibility or training needs!